he forgot the most important one…

Beer is delicious.

But he can be forgiven I think. Click through for Twenty Things Worth Knowing about Beer from The Oatmeal.

beer

tsa inspired prose

I mean, the TSA has to be good for something, right?

In lieu of any real content for today, here’s a little writing exercise that I worked on after finally getting on a flight home on Monday morning.

There’s something bittersweet about watching the too-soon family reunions caused by canceled flights. We’ve had our holidays, spent quality time with loved ones, but the joyous emotions of the season do take their toll. There’s something to be said for going back… home? Not Home, where you were just welcomed and feted and feasted and hugged and kissed and gave and got, we’ve had our fill of Home. We strive now for whatever base is currently ours. The dorm, the first apartment, the starter townhouse. These places where we’ve crafted a life anew. They aren’t better, necessarily. Just not here. Not where the phone rings when we call to ask for the ride back from the airport. Not where the smiling faces of our mothers recall and foreshadow the sad goodbye which must be repeated tomorrow. But we can’t get there now, so we wait to be picked up on the departure level (which, at least, is a departure from the norm). We try to put on brave faces, we wish each other luck. We try to decide whether everyone gets hugs again when we walk back in the door. We know our destinations will still be there tomorrow — but where will we be?

I still don’t know why Northwest flight 3661 was cancelled this Sunday.  I do know that something went very wrong with the airline security system (worldwide, it seems) starting on Friday, and continuing through the present.  I’m not going to comment on any specific policies or news events, I’ll just say that I’m glad that I have no plans to get on a plane again any time in the near future.

csa thoughts

I pickled radishes this past weekend.

I’ve cooked raspberries down into the best ice cream syrup ever.

I’ve made friends with sweet potatoes (that thing that people do with the marshmallows? it’s kind of gross, really).

I’ve figured out what a sunchokes, ramps, and scapes are.

I’m pretty sure that none of that would have been possible without my membership in Harmony Valley Farm’s CSA this year.

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To review, CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Amber and I purchased a share of Harmony Valley’s output for the 2009 growing season, so just about every week since May we’ve been picking up a box full of veggies to share. With a CSA, you don’t get to pick and choose what you like, and you’re at the mercy of the tastes of the farmer (dude really likes radishes), and the ravages of the weather (it was a bad year for broccoli, a great year for onions).

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There are dozens of CSAs that deliver to the Twin Cities area (see the Land Stewardship Project for more details). We picked our CSA farm pretty much randomly this year, though our pick seemed justified by other bloggers who seemed really happy with Harmony Valley, and they were right.

We had the Full Season, Every Week share from Harmony Valley Farm. That means that our deliveries started in mid-May, and just ended this past week. The boxes at the beginning of the season were a little light. Lots of root veggies, some salad greens. By mid-June though, things had really started to pick up. Scapes, and then garlic, zucchini, cauliflower, snap peas, edamame, amaranth. August/September brought a flood of tomatoes and peppers (sweet, hot, pimento, you name it). There were some weeks that there were definitely more than the three of us (myself, Amber, and Mr. Amber) could handle, and sadly more food than I would have liked ended up in my compost pile. But what we could eat, was generally delicious (maybe not the pea vines), definitely nutritious, and certified organic to boot.

The management of the farm has been great too. Their website is well laid out, and it’s easy to find information about what to expect in each week’s box, and they have archives of all of their weekly newsletters (with recipes and veggie features) online as well. They also make arrangements with other nearby farms to buy their excess produce to help fill out boxes that would be especially light (a problem that seemed to plague people with other Twin Cities CSAs this year). Since Amber and I were splitting a share, we thought it would be complicated, but they are well set up to handle that, invoicing us separately via email, and making sure that we each got any necessary paperwork. One caveat though: Amber and I did have differing experiences with a couple of off-season orders (my beef freezer pack order seems to be fine, but items that were promised to Amber for Christmas won’t arrive until the New Year).

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Lastly, the farm encourages its members to visit, and Amber and I got a chance to drive down their for their Strawberry Picking day. It was great to meet the people who work at the farm and to really find out where our food was coming from.  They also have a small campsite near their creek, and host a Harvest Festival/Pumpkin Picking day in the Fall — both things that I’d like to do if I stayed with this farm in 2010.

So why I am thinking of switching next year?

  1. Location, location, location. I live in Blaine, and work in Shoreview. HVF is definitely light on pickup locations in the north metro, and while the Como location was mostly OK relative to Amber’s previous apartment, now that she’s moved there isn’t really a pick-up location that makes sense for either of us anymore (especially if we need to meet up to split the share).
  2. Quantity. It’s calmed down now (especially with the transition to storage vegetables), but as I said above, there were times where there was just too much food to eat in a week. Going down to an every-other-week share would probably help with this, but I’d love to find a farm that offered half-shares on a weekly basis.
  3. Curiosity. Harmony Valley Farm was amazing. But are they really the best out there?  With so many other options, it seems wrong to just stick with one out of habit.  Worst cast scenario, we have bad luck and have to switch back to HVF in 2011… at least I’d know, right?

So, there you have it.  If you have 4 adults to feed, and live within a convenient distance of Harmony Valley’s pick-up locations, I have zero qualms about recommending them.  I, however, am going to shop around a little and see what else I can find… any of you have suggestions?

because someone has to say it

Mark my words, this is going to be a meme someday, and I want to go on the record right here and right now as saying that:

Colonel Miles Quaritch > Chuck Norris

be afraid, little chuck norris man.

Justification after the jump, don’t click or read on if you haven’t seen Avatar yet, k?

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